Kinnikinnick is a species of Arctostaphylos, one of several related species referred to as bearberry or kinnikinnick. The distribution is circumpolar, widespread in northern latitudes, confined to high altitudes further south. In North America, it ranges from arctic Alaska, Canada and Greenland south to California.
It is a small, spreading procumbent woody shrub 5-30 cm high. The leaves are evergreen, remaining green for 1-3 years before falling. The fruit is a red berry. The leaves are shiny, small, and feel thick and stiff. In spring, kinnikinnick produces white or pink flowers. They are a common plant on Jack pine sites. They grow well in dry, sunny gardens.
Kinnikinnick has historically been used for medicinal purposes. It contains the glycoside arbutin, which has antimicrobial properties and acts as a mild diuretic. It has been used for urinary tract complaints, including cystitis and urolithiasis.
- Light Requirements: Full Sun
- Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
- Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
- Growth Rate: Fast
- Spreads: Yes
- Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
- Edible: No
- Mature Height: 5-8in.
- Mature Width: 2-15ft